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Archive for September 2008

DorobekInsider: Why feds may not be able to use YouTube

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Many federal agencies post videos to YouTube or other video sharing sites, but that might not really be… legal might be too strong, but… maybe not inaccurate. But don’t panic yet!

YouTube, of course, is the big playing in online video, hosting nearly one-third of videos posted online. That is largely because it is so easy to use — and then for others to post videos.

Well, it turns out that the YouTube terms of service apparently conflict with federal laws.

We all have seen “terms of service.” Most of us see it as that part of the registering process that you quickly pass over by quickly agreeing. We agree because, essentially, we have no option. (FYI: This site has a summary of YouTube’s terms of service.)

Apparently some wise people were smart enough to read the YouTube terms of service and there is this mind-numbing provision (italics added by me; ALL CAPS added by them):

You agree that: (i) the YouTube Website shall be deemed solely based in California; and (ii) the YouTube Website shall be deemed a passive website that does not give rise to personal jurisdiction over YouTube, either specific or general, in jurisdictions other than California. These Terms of Service shall be governed by the internal substantive laws of the State of California, without respect to its conflict of laws principles. Any claim or dispute between you and YouTube that arises in whole or in part from the YouTube Website shall be decided exclusively by a court of competent jurisdiction located in San Mateo County, California. These Terms of Service, together with the Privacy Notice at http://www.youtube.com/t/privacy and any other legal notices published by YouTube on the Website, shall constitute the entire agreement between you and YouTube concerning the YouTube Website. If any provision of these Terms of Service is deemed invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the invalidity of such provision shall not affect the validity of the remaining provisions of these Terms of Service, which shall remain in full force and effect. No waiver of any term of this these Terms of Service shall be deemed a further or continuing waiver of such term or any other term, and YouTube’s failure to assert any right or provision under these Terms of Service shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. YouTube reserves the right to amend these Terms of Service at any time and without notice, and it is your responsibility to review these Terms of Service for any changes. Your use of the YouTube Website following any amendment of these Terms of Service will signify your assent to and acceptance of its revised terms. YOU AND YOUTUBE AGREE THAT ANY CAUSE OF ACTION ARISING OUT OF OR RELATED TO THE YOUTUBE WEBSITE MUST COMMENCE WITHIN ONE (1) YEAR AFTER THE CAUSE OF ACTION ACCRUES. OTHERWISE, SUCH CAUSE OF ACTION IS PERMANENTLY BARRED.

Federal agencies only play in federal courts.

There are some other problem language, but… from what I understand, that is the big one.

I’m hearing that the folks at GSA and YouTube’s parent, Google, are trying to work something out for federal agencies that will resolve the conflicts. I have queries into GSA.

Mostly related: The executive branch isn’t the only one dealing with these kinds of issues. Congress has apparently been struggling with issues as well, Roll Call reports.

Less than a week after the Senate passed its own regulations for using YouTube videos, the House Administration Committee tried to do the same — and ended up with an emotionally charged hearing and a breakdown in negotiations.

The issue itself is almost mundane: House rules prohibit Members from using outside Web sites such as YouTube, but many openly violate the rules and post such videos on their official Web sites.

Both House Democrats and Republicans agree the rules need to be updated. But formulating them and negotiating the language has already taken more than a year.

Staffers had hoped to piggy-back on the Senate’s resolution and agree on language before Thursday’s business meeting, but they came up short.

Roll Call has a interesting column by Soren Dayton, a manager for New Media Strategies, who also blogs at conservative Web sites TheNextRight.com and Redstate.com.

On June 24, Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) sent a letter to House Administration Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.) urging the committee to update its guidelines governing Member Web sites. WhileCapuano’s proposal improved the status quo, it ignores the current practice by House Members.

A much simpler principle would have sufficed: What matters is what you say, not where you say it. That would reflect the reality of current practice and be appropriate to the “new” media and the changing economics of the “old” media. Furthermore, these answers are implied by a letter by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), as posted on the Speaker’s office blog, The Gavel…

Let me briefly summarize Capuano’s proposal, its problems, and a simple content-based solution. That solution would allow Members to communicate with the public using today’s Internet tools. Capuano made the proposal as head of the franking commission, which operates under the House Administration panel.

Continue reading Dayton’s column here.

Written by cdorobek

September 26, 2008 at 8:07 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

DorobekInsider: The Wall Street crisis could impact the government too

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We have all been watching the mess on Wall Street — and I think most people in government sit back and think, “Thank goodness I’m a fed and I don’t have to deal with this stuff.”

Unfortunately, in today’s hyper-connected world, what happens on Wall Street has ramifications on Main Street… and around the Beltway. (Ah — the world is flat!)

We seemingly hate to say it, but… it seems we just don’t know.

In my own mind, I keep going back and forth on the potential impact of this to government.

But here is some reading/listening on the subject.

* Michael Lent, the editor and publisher of Government Services Insider, wrote a excellent column for the current issue of Washington Technology headlined, Five ways the financial crisis makes things tougher for contractors. The headline could have just as easily have read, “Five ways the financial crisis makes things tougher on agencies,” to be honest, particularly given that agencies are increasingly dependent on contractors to get their jobs done.

I should note that we had Lent on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Thursday. You can hear him for yourself here. [.mp3]

His five ways:

1. Regulation — in general — is now in, with gusto, easing passage of more rules.
2. The bailout will infect the discretionary budget, snuffing growth in some areas.
3. Financing for M&A deals will be constrained as “deleveraging” proceeds on Wall Street.
4. Small businesses will suffer a continuing credit pinch.
5. Boards of directors will be compelled to proactively surveil management.

One of the somewhat scary parts of this situation seems to be that the longer it goes on, the less we seem to know. For example, last weekend, when Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was on the Sunday news shows talking about the $700 billion package, my immediate thought was that this would have a huge impact on agencies. Why? Because, just as Lent says, the debt would essentially choke the government spending.

But — and we all hate this phrase — we just don’t know. Elsewhere on Federal News Radio, on InDepth with Francis Rose, our mid-day program, Rose spoke to Henry Aaron, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the former Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. His point: We just don’t know what this will mean. [You can listen to the interview with Aaron here. (.mp3)] It depends how much the government pays for these troubled debts… and how much it can then sell them for.

Meanwhile, CNet’s Dan Farber says that we should get ready for a new wave of consolidation, at least in the information technology world.

Global domination. That is the dreamy aspiration, mostly unspoken, of CEOs around the world of companies large and small. Market share domination is probably a more accurate description of the goal. In times of economic distress, companies with the stronger balance sheets are like sharks in the water, seeking to gain market share through acquisition or attrition. With the dawning of a new era of government regulation, spawned by the current and ongoing financial meltdown and the Enron generation, the sharks are circling but keeping an eye on antitrust regulators.

While tech spending doesn’t exactly correlate to the credit crunch, IT purchases are expected to slow down over the next three quarters, according to Forrester. Advertising spending in 2009 could be curbed if the economy spirals downward. Of course, no one knows which direction the gyrating stock market and spending patterns will go. If the $700 billion government (taxpayer) handout brings more confidence into the markets, the outlook will be better. But the majority of companies lacking strong financials or sales pipelines will be looking for reasonable exits or ways to conserve cash while the economy sorts itself out.

One other piece that is worth reading. (Hat tip to Federal News Radio’s Francis Rose.) Over the weekend, WP money columnist Robert J. Samuelson provided insights into one of the big questions coming out of all this economic mess: How did we get here in the first place?

His column, headlined The Confidence Game , is worth a few minutes.

It’s all about confidence… Every financial system depends on trust. People have to believe that the institutions they deal with will perform as expected. We are in a crisis because financial managers — the people who run banks, investment banks, hedge funds — have lost that trust. Banks recoil from lending to each other; investors retreat. The ultimate horror is when everyone wants to sell and no one wants to buy. Paulson’s plan aims to avoid that calamity.

Written by cdorobek

September 26, 2008 at 6:47 AM

Posted in budget, Industry

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DorobekInsider: GCN reporting troubles with the E-Gov Act

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FCW and GCN are reporting that the bill to reauthorize the E-Government Act of 2002 has hit a “sudden and unexpected snag.”

The problem: A last-minute big by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to attach an amendment regarding privacy.

GCN editor in chief Wyatt Kash got the story:

Privacy amendment stalls e-gov bill [FCW.com, Sept. 25, 2008]

A Senate bill to reauthorize the E-Government Act of 2002, which had been approved and was set for a floor vote, hit a sudden and unexpected snag today that puts a number of government information technology initiatives on hold or in limbo.

S. 2321, the E-Government Re-authorization Act of 2007, was intended to extend through 2012 appropriations for programs whose authorizations have expired and create new requirements for accessibility of government information.

It also provided mandates to develop best practices to enhance privacy impact assessments. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

However, a last-minute bid by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to attach an amendment to the re-authorization act has stalled the bill, according to legislative and executive branch sources. And with the Senate due to adjourn, the bill will effectively die.

Sources said the amendment placed controversial new requirements for protecting personal individual information and restrictions on data brokers. Efforts to move the amendment to another bill proved unsuccessful and instead led to deadlock, sources said.

More here.

I still don’t fully have a sense as to what this means. Ideas welcome.

Written by cdorobek

September 25, 2008 at 7:54 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Dorobek Insider: Neighbors rooting for Marty Wagner

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I’ve been tracking the condition of Martin “Marty” Wagner fairly closely. On July 6, Wagner fell off the roof of his Arlington, VA house and has essentially been in a coma since then.

Wagner’s neighbors are rooting for him. One of his neighbors was good enough to send me this photo of a sign that is in the Cherrydale neighborhood of Arlington, VA.


We’re all rooting for you, Marty!

As I always do in these instances… I will have Wagner updates when there are significant developments. From regular updates from the family, there are two ways to stay updated.

* martywagner.info
This site was created by Bruce McConnell for Wagner’s wife and they post updates there regularly.

* CarePages
As I have mentioned, I have been really impressed with CarePages.com, part of Steve Case’s Revolution Health organization. CarePages is a Web site that helps the family provide information about sick family members. You can find it at carepages.com. (Once there, you have to register… and then you can search for “MartinWagner” — no space.)

* If you want to send something to Wagner or his family…

I will continue to be a funnel. You can send something to me at Federal News Radio. The address is here:

Christopher Dorobek
for Martin Wagner
c/o Federal News Radio 1500 AM WFED
3400 Idaho Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016

I’ll make sure it gets to the family.

Written by cdorobek

September 25, 2008 at 2:13 PM

Posted in Circuit, community

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DorobekInsider: GSA’s Reed moves to HQ

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We told you about it earlier, but the official notice has been sent out:

Reed Moves to Administrator’s Office

GSA Acting Administrator James Williams has named Anthony Reed his Special Assistant effective September 24, 2008. Reed has served as GSA’s Regional Administrator of the National Capital Region since June, 2007. In his new role, Reed will provide support to GSA executives on several key initiatives including continuity and transition.

As the head of GSA’s largest region, Reed oversaw a real estate portfolio of 93 million square feet–an inventory of over 880 government–owned and leased facilities that house nearly 300,000 federal workers. In addition to continued service as GSA’s Chief of Staff, John Phelps will assume the role of Acting Regional Administrator of the National Capital Region.

Prior to joining GSA, Reed served as the Assistant Secretary of the Maryland Department of General Services.

Written by cdorobek

September 25, 2008 at 8:34 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

DorobekInsider: Happy birthday to GSA’s Martha Dorris

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Martha Dorris

Martha Dorris

A very happy birthday to Martha Dorris, who is GSA’s deputy associate administrator in charge of the Office of Citizen Services. Her office oversees, among other things, the federal government Web portal, USA.gov. (If you have any doubt that she loves her work, check out the license plate on her car!) In her non-work hours, she heads the American Council for Technology (ACT). She also serves as the head of the corresponding International Council for Information Technology in Government Administration (ICA).

I’m sure it’s purely coincidential, but… USA.gov’s blog, GovGab, is also celebrating its one-year birthday. (And check out the new multi-media press release — PR 2.0, if you will.)

Big events on this date:

* 1493 Christopher Columbus set sail from Cadiz, Spain, with a flotilla of 17 ships on his second voyage to the Western Hemisphere.
* 1775 American Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen was captured by the British as he led an attack on Montreal.
* 1789 The first United States Congress adopted 12 amendments to the Constitution and sent them to the states for ratification. (Ten of the amendments became the Bill of Rights.)
* 1890 Mormon president Wilford Woodruff issued a manifesto formally renouncing the practice of polygamy.
* 1981 Sandra Day O’Connor was sworn in as the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
* 2001 Michael Jordan announced he was returning to basketball with the NBA’s Washington Wizards.

Sharing Dorris’ birthday:

* Actor Will Smith, who turns 40
* News woman Barbara Walters (79)
* Defense Secretary Robert Gates (65)
* Actor Michael Douglas (64)
* Star Wars actor Mark Hamill (57 — you’re kidding, right? 57?)
* Actress Heather Locklear (47)
* Acress Catherine Zeta-Jones (39 — OK, both Douglas and Zeta-Jones have the same birthday and they’re married. Hmmm.)

People born on this date in history:

* William Faulkner (9/25/1897 – 7/6/1962): American Nobel Prize-winning novelist and short story writer (Read more about Faulkner over at PRI’s Writer’s Almanac.)
* Melville Bissell (9/25/1843 – 3/15/1889), the American inventor of the carpet sweeper
* Mark Rothko (9/25/1903 – 2/25/1970), American Abstract Expressionist painter
* John V. Dodge (9/25/1909 – 4/23/1991), American publishing executive of the Encyclopedia Britannica
* Glenn Gould (9/25/1932 – 10/4/1982), Canadian pianist

Written by cdorobek

September 25, 2008 at 7:34 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

DorobekInsider: Site worth watching — FedScoop.com

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FedScoop.com

FedScoop.com

So I discovered a new Web site: FedScoop. The site pulls the news from various news sources — GovExec, FCW, GCNFederal News Radio — and puts them all in one place. So it trys to bring all the headlines together for you.

The site also has some of the popular federal blogs — with one noticeable missing blog! (They tell me the Dorobek Insider will make the page.)

The site is pulled together by Goldy Kamali, who is vice president of business development, public sector at Adventos.

Of course, I have just a few critiques:

  • ID yourself: This site, like many sites out there these days, doesn’t say specifically who put it together. Why? In the age of transparency, why not say who did the work? Have a way to contact that person.
  • Great layout: The site was designed by FaraJoomla and it is very sleek.
  • FedScoop vs RSS feeds: I’m guessing that FedScoop pulls from RSS feeds, so… in the end, why would somebody not just use RSS feeds? We’ll see.

Over all, the site is nice looking and it is great to be able to find stuff in one place. It will be interesting to see how it develops.

Written by cdorobek

September 24, 2008 at 11:23 PM

Posted in Web sites

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DorobekInsider.com: Cureton exits the GITEC board

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Earlier, we told you about the changes at GITEC — slow changes, but changes, or so it seems. Many of those changes have been spurred by Linda Cureton , the CIO at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and a GITEC board member.

Soon after the post, we learn that Cureton has decided to leave the GITEC board.

We’ve heard that there were other board members who were going to step down.

One of GITEC’s value propositions is that it is one of the only organizations out there with a government only board.

Written by cdorobek

September 24, 2008 at 10:56 PM

DorobekInsider: FBI CIO retiring

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Federal Computer Week and CNet are reporting that the FBI CIO Zalmai Azmi is stepping down.

Zalmai Azmi, FBI’s chief information officer since 2004, announced he will be retiring from government Oct. 17.

This from the CNet report:

The biggest challenge for his successor, Azmi said, “will be maintaining those relationships. More than anything, it’s about the transparency we’ve brought.”

Azmi’s last official day will be October 17, and he said his successor will likely be named a few weeks after that. From a large pool of applicants from the public and private sectors, the bureau has narrowed its choices to candidates from the private sector.

Written by cdorobek

September 24, 2008 at 4:19 PM

DorobekInsider: More info on the passing of Suda’s mother

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I told you earlier this week that former GSA-USDA-DOTer Bob Suda’s mother passed away early Monday morning. The obit has been posted… and there is info on what you can do…

Suda let me know that the family is asking, in lieu of flowers, people can make a donation in memory of his mother to the American Cancer Society. To donate, go to www.cancer.org. Go to “Donate Now” and click on the “Gifts In Memory” button. Suda’s mother’s name is Rose Suda.

Cards should be sent to Bob Suda, 11416 Meath Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

Rose Suda, formerly of Watkins Street, Swoyersville, passed away on Monday, September 22, 2008, at the Davis Manor, Mountain Top, where she had been a guest.

Our thoughts are with Suda and his family.

You can read the full obit after the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

September 24, 2008 at 2:26 PM

Posted in Circuit, community

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